Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville Is Lead Human In Paddington Bear Adaptation

For some reason adaptations of beloved children’s books tend to work far better than the generic CGI rehashings of other forms of children’s fiction, like cartoons or toys. (Yes, I’m lumping Yogi Bear and Transformers in the same pile here.) There's always a chance that a book's characters will get exploited and watered down by bringing them into the modern world, but it's hard to grasp how that could happen with a British adaptation of the quintessentially British Paddington Bear series, written by Michael Bond and illustrated initially by Peggy Fortnum.

Keeping the cleverly optimistic bear in check in the upcoming movie version will be none other than familiar patriarch Hugh Bonneville, whom TheWrap reports is in negotiations to play Henry Brown, the kind-but-stern head of the Brown household that takes Paddington into their home. I don’t think we’ll be seeing any lame fart jokes under Mr. Brown’s watchful eye.

Bonneville, who plays the roost ruler Robert Crawley on Downton Abbey, is a great choice for the role, as his comedic chops were recently on display in the BBC America import of the satirical comedy Twenty Twelve. The film is being directed by Paul King - whose wild talents gave us the potent visuals behind the cult British comedy The Mighty Boosh and the film The Bunny and the Bull - and is being written by Hamish McColl, known mostly for the sequels Johnny English Reborn and Mr. Bean’s Holiday. It’s one big gloriously British production, which can only be a good thing when it comes to an icon like Paddington.

The film’s story finds Paddington arriving at London’s Paddington Station from his former home in darkest Peru, and he’s taken in by the Browns, who end up protecting him from the cold-hearted taxidermist who runs the Museum of Natural History. Nobody stuffs Paddington Bear!

David Heyman, whose production company Heyday Films will produce, is interested in getting Hugh Laurie to voice the titular bear, but no negotiations have been made. Production is set to begin this fall.

You’ll be able to catch more of Bonneville’s crossover appeal when George Clooney’s treasure hunt adventure The Monuments Men gets released in December.


Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.